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What Can We Learn from our Teenage Children About the Use of Social Media for Business Advantage?

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Phil WainewrightWhat can we learn from our teenage children about the use of social media for business advantage?

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  • Teenagers today clearly collaborate more openly and transparently on Social Media forums than the prior generation.

    The two big things we really can learn are

    (1) The engagement factor of advertising has fundamentally changed. The way the current generation buys and gets engaged with a brand via Social Media is clearly an area of opportunity.

    (2) The collaboration model within a corporation and our ability to harness this model of open and transparent communication in the workplace will change the engagement factor from employees by an order of magnitude over the coming years.

    We have seen many brands/companies already put these principles to use and I think an ever increasing number of them will over short order.

  • We need to learn that in 10 years our children will be old enough to also be our bosses. Whatever we learn now will put us in a better position to be a relevant part of the new economy and working practices. In any case, we will have to work hard to adapt, rather than cling onto the formal and unproductive practices we are most comfortable with.

    We can help everybody work better together by being the bridge between the old and the new. As technologists we need to design software that is enabler to this bridge, not just a way of reaping profits from aging and restrictive processes and work habits.

    Whatever we do, we just have to remember that change is what makes life interesting.

  • Children are an example of what is possible when one removes all the reasons why you say “I can’t.? The youth of our nation have not been taught the rigged rules that often govern our business-like behaviors; the same rules that often paralyze our ability to do right things. For them, the value of social media is based on the humanity of people connecting and sharing. Doesn’t this value transcend into business as well?

  • The No.1 lesson of Social Media for businesses is that the old Madison Avenue model of sit-down-I-will-show-you-a-short-movie-about-our-product is not going to work anymore. It needs to be fun, engaging, interactive and build a brand through interactivity rather than passive messaging.

  • I think the fundamental things we have to take away from this are;

    * The rules of engagement, reputation and customer interaction are King
    * The public and consumers are extremely aware now of content, that a marketing message delivered by social means will be met with cynicism unless it’s backed up by an interactive channel willing to engage in conversation about it
    * You can blow your image with one wrong message as quickly as you can build up your reputation (Habitat was a prime example last year)
    * Your young consumer audience is more savvy than you are, they don’t like jargon and hype, they are armed with information and know where to get it from faster than you do

    There was a really interesting article which talked about using the gaming dynamics of scoring systems and reputation as internal motivation for employees -- http://ow.ly/1y4aI -- but I can see this being translated on an external facing business level to let consumers know which companies actually are worth interacting with, this is extremely powerful because the customer is again put in the driving seat and it’s no longer the business who dictate why and how the customer should interact with it.

    Businesses will have to embrace social media whether they like it or not, it’s not going to go away. Those that don’t are going to face a tough time trying to be heard in the next 5 years.

  • Wow, really good answers. As a tech marketer, I'm gravitating towards Nari's post.

    I'll add their ability to absorb much more sensory input per second. Things come at them so fast and they have an ability to multi-task while still retaining. The flip side is their attention span is so short. So, as others have said, we'd better start making the messages much more compelling in a much shorter time span.

    There is also no "pulling the wool over their eyes". I can't get anything past my 17 year old.

  • We have a lot to learn from Gen Y which is more than just teenagers. But first, as BabyBoomers, we need to get past the unfair preconceptions that GenY are selfish, needy with a short attention span. Secondly we need act like pupils rather than teachers, which is our normal modus operandi as supervisors / managers / leaders at work.

    GenY work differently because they have grown up with a different technology landscape. Technology that they don't even see as 'technology you have to learn' because much of it existed before they were born.

    So what can we learn. Deep trusting relationships can be developed purely through IM, Facebook, Twitter without face to face meetings. But commnication is 7% words, 38% tonality, 55% body language. As you are working only only 7% of the message you need to read the message in the way the person wrote it.

    More thoughts in my blog www.inqbator.org.uk/iangotts/blog/tabid/470/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/75/Default.aspx

  • A truly global market is here: Empowered by tech, Gen Y is coming of age with a mindset that there are no limits to where imagination and innovation can take them. No geographic restraints, no restraints based on who you are, your heritage or ethnicity, where you come from, or your socio-economic status. Technology has become the great equalizer.

  • Incidentally, I just read an article (http://ow.ly/1Bb5P) on how the executive and management ranks are apprehensive of the social media tools. It points to aspects of generation gap that are indeed very difficult to bridge.

    And most of us, who are commenting here or reading this, may not even appreciate or understand those gaps, as we're already at least leveraging some of these tools. For instance, I came here through to a tweet from Peter!

    Social media has really broken the walls and made Business promotion and C-executive level communication a far cry from the traditional formal channels. And if the same people that are supposed to be making such critical business strategy decisions do not fully appreciate these new tools and keep shrugging these off as just another teen-age obsession, it's not going to do any good for those businesses. The reality is that the social networking is here already...

    I also see that many companies just do not understand the essence of certain tools such as blogs or twitter. They end up getting some "top!" leadership guys to write a blog post a week (that reads like excerpt from a press interview) or appoint some personnel to keep posting "moderated!" tweets!

    If we can get inputs from some of those same executive folk that have apprehensions on social tools, we might get some debates and another dimension covered, otherwise I think all the comments would agree to each other... :)

  • I read this article this morning and immediately thought of this thread - For Web’s New Wave, Sharing Details Is the Point - http://nyti.ms/aa4nCV

    Here are a few interesting and relevant quotes:

    "While the over-30 set might recoil from this type of activity, young people do not seem to mind. The site, which gets around 300,000 visitors a month, according to the online research company Compete.com, appears to be largely populated with enthusiastically exhibitionist teenagers."

    “But the assumption that every scrap of data is actually useful to individuals, or even companies, will be tested.?

    So, one thing to learn and leverage is that the line of inhibition is dropping rapidly. We should be able to create much more informed buyer personas. That will require BI to connect to social so we can mine the data.

    In a much more individual sense, it will be easier to establish rapport with sales prospects by learning more about them online.

  • Yes, I think we can learn a lot.
    My two kids, 5 and 7 years old (not teenagers, but still), are already engaged in collaboration through the web. It is usually fun, easy, encouraging and interactive.
    We need to think the same way when we create applications: it has to be easy to sign up, easy to install, easy to use, easy to maintain, easy to add on new services, etc. Obviously TRUST is important!
    Listening to the market, I believe that there is a shift where businesses have started to look at social networking concepts more and more, and they are doing it within traditional technology approaches, like BPM, B2B, and MFT. For example, social networking is now being used as a communication channel for the onboarding of customers, something the culture is well aware of at this point, having become comfortable with sites like Amazon.com, eBay.com, Facebook.com, and scores of others.

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